David Kushner is a musician, guitarist, and composer with a career that ranges from playing in the Hollywood punk scene in the 1980s to Velvet Revolver and composing music for TV and film (which includes co-writing the theme song for Sons of Anarchy.)
Jeff and Dustin talked to Kushner on our podcast, Fueled by Death Cast, and talked about everything from the rollercoaster that was Velvet revolver, being a father, and how much coffee he drinks. Since the podcast, our interview has been picked up by publications like Loudwire, BlabberMouth.Net, and Alternative Nation.
Take a look at an excerpt from our interview below.
Photo credit: Zimbio/Chris Jackson/Getty Images Entertainment
Jeff: I want to talk about when you were a young kid, where was that moment of, "I want to be a musician, I want to pick up an instrument and I want to go out there and perform." Did you have a moment like that?
Dave Kushner: It was clear in my head that I wanted to be a graphic artist. I started doing that when I was four. Not graphic art, but like drawing and taking classes and painting. That was my thing. I went to Otis Parsons for a summer. Until I was about 14, that's all I wanted to do. I had no interest in playing music. I loved music, but I didn't want to do it. My mom had a nylon string acoustic guitar that my dad bought her, and I started messing around on that. I tried to learn how to play Stairway to Heaven.
Jeff: Of course.
Dave Kushner: It was too hard. Then I took some lessons in school in junior high, and they're like, "Oh, you can't play with the pick. You gotta just play with your fingers." I didn't want to. Between that and not being able to learn how to play Stairway to Heaven, I just gave up. When I was starting 10th grade, it was like a cut my hair, like punk rock over the summer, looks like. Now I'm in the Black Flag, and the Circle Jerks, and all those bands. There was this band, this kid punk called Mad Society, and they all went to Fairfax where I went.
I started hanging out with those guys, and this girl showed me how to play barre chords. At that moment, as soon as the barre chord thing happen for me, I was like, "Can I play any song barre, with just these two shapes?" Really, at that point, I never stopped. It was like, "I'm just going to play all the time." I loved it. That was kind of the thing. As I was learning to play, I was singing very badly in punk bands, but that's kind of how I started, at least learning how to write songs or shape songs or whatever, until I got good enough where I could I actually play a guitar in a band.
Jeff: Through it all, through from the early beginnings with the punk scene to Velvet Revolver and beyond, and everything that you've gotten to do with your career ... What fuels you to keep going?
Dave Kushner: Coffee.
Jeff: Shitty answer.
Dave Kushner: It's funny because it's like I say that jokingly, but it's actually kind of serious, because ... Hold on one second. My kid's got the flu, he's home from school. He's like, "Hey, where's my Rubik's Cube." I didn't know kids are into those again. I drink so much coffee is not even safe, I don't think, but it's like ... Honestly, part of it is just being a parent, like you've got a big life now, and you got to, I don't want to say, maintain it, but you've got responsibilities. I've got two kids, I've got a wife, I've got a house, I've got all this grownup stuff. And that's the funny part, I don't really feel like a grown up, even though on paper I am.
Jeff: That's a good thing to be though.
Dave Kushner: It's like being of service to my kids, being of service to my wife, being of service to people that I come in contact with because that's what makes me feel good. That's what gets me right with the world. It's like talking to someone alcoholic just in his third week and has no idea how he's going to make it through week four, and giving some kid like that hope. Honestly, that's what fucking fuels me. Like being able to change, not change lives or save people, like I coach my son's baseball team and it's fucking gnarly, it's getting to the next level like two games that we can practice and there's a full on draft and there's this, and there's that, and there's managers meetings and all shit.
When I see a kid that can't hit the ball to save his life in the beginning of the season and then three games in and he gets a hit, that fucking feeling of joy is unmeasurable. There is no better feeling than seeing the light come on in someone's eyes or seeing that kid get a hit that never got a hit or, that's why they make movies about that shit, but that's what fuels me to ... get up in the morning because, it sounds corny, and I never think about it, but I know when I talk about it, I know every day I have that opportunity if I do all the things I need to do to get my head right.
And musically, I've just been so fortunate to fucking make a living doing this shit and to come up with new projects and do things, and to just do it all like the way ... it's not like, "Oh, I could do it all exactly the way I want it," but it's kind of worked out that way. I wanted to start this all-star cover band, to do events and stuff like that. Play with all my favorite people, and it's like I was able to do that, play like a huge Nine Inch Nails fan and a huge Robin Finck fan.
Dustin: It sounds really cool and it must take a lot of coffee to keep you going. I'm curious, how much coffee do you actually consume in a day?
Dave Kushner: Dude, you know when you have the drip coffee maker, I do six. It's on like six cups, I guess. I get up at 6:00 in the morning, I meditate for 15 minutes before everyone gets up. Then I wake up the kids, but before, I always have to have the coffee set up the night before. It's like, I set it up six cups, wake up, drink that as fast as I can, meditate, so that by the time I'm done meditating, the coffee is kicking in. And then wake up the kids, get them do the lunches, go to school, take them to school, then I get back and go work out. And I'd say about noon, another cup of coffee, then around 3:30, another cup of coffee, and then sometimes in the evening, more coffee.
Check out the entire interview here.